The stakes are never not high on a show like "World of Dance," but last night's episode—the very last of the Duels eps for this season—felt especially fraught. Why? The theme running through most of the routines (and the scores, and the results) was that age-old competition debate of tricks versus "goosies," as J.Lo would put it. A couple of teams made a point of not including any tricks in their choreo, another netted a perfect 100 from one judge after tons of stunts, and Ne-Yo admitted he's never felt the "goosies." (Um, do you even go here?!) As the Season 3 Duels wrapped up, the real question wasn't which acts would advance to The Cut, but whether it would be gasp-inducing stunts or heart-tugging artistry that would come out on top.
SIUDY FLAMENCO VS. FUEGO DANCE CREW
This was a nail-biter of a battle-of-the-sexes. In one corner, we had Siudy, beautifully representing flamenco dancers everywhere—but on a TV show that sometimes tends to favor dance styles that are more familiar to US audiences. In the other corner, there was Fuego Dance Crew, getting down with flashy, attention-grabbing choreo. It broke our hearts that Siudy was eliminated, but at the same time we get what J.Lo was saying about how their non-flamenco moments felt a little "basic."
UNITY L.A. VS. STYLE & GRACE
In contrast, there really was no contest here. While these two groups do share a stunning synchronicity and intense attack fueling every movement, there was a dynamism in Unity L.A.'s choreo that Style & Grace just couldn't seem to match. Ultimately, it was that exciting propulsive quality that sent Unity L.A. on to The Cut—and led J.Lo to suggest that they have what it takes to win the whole darn thing. No pressure, guys.
THE HEIMA VS. EXILES
Exiles kicked this Duel off with a super-entertaining routine that seemed hard to beat, full as it was with eye-popping togetherness and impressive feats (including an amazing sight gag that we're still not over, tbh). But then The Heima threw down the gauntlet in a major way. It didn't hurt that the Korean group danced to "Natural" (keep an eye out for my forthcoming TED talk on how it's impossible to NOT feel hype when listening to Imagine Dragons), but right from the opener—10-plus seconds of effortless headspins—it was painfully obvious that they'd already won. (Though Exiles took the Redemption round over Motiv Crew, so we'll see more of them in coming rounds, too!) Hard to imagine how The Heima will top this particular performance next week, when The Cut begins.
MAIN GUYS VS. RADIANCE
This duel might have just as well been renamed Goofiness vs. Gravitas. While we're not going to deny that we giggled pretty much all the way through the Main Guys' gag-tastic hip-hop choreo, their silly swagger just couldn't stand up to Radiance's flawlessly synchronized contemporary lines. Radiance's greater numbers made every hard hit all the more stunning, and set them up to show off more of that dignified girl power in The Cut.
THE KINGS VS. MOTIV CREW
Motiv Crew is classic "World of Dance": hard-hitting, technically outstanding hip hop with electric stage presence. But what edged The Kings over Motiv in this round was the extra-special sauce that the Bollywood-influenced Kings bring to everything they do. Their performances include not only mind-boggling tricks and crisp precision, but also a slapstick energy that makes it all so much fun to watch. No wonder Ne-Yo gave them a perfect 100. Dear Kings, can we be y'all when we grow up?